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The Meridian Police Department on Wednesday released the dash cam video of a police officer using excessive force against a shoplifting suspect. The video shows officer Daniel Starks pushing the suspect and tasing him while the suspect was in handcuffs. Starks has been terminated for the incident. “[Starks] just said he knew he did wrong,” Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose said Wednesday. Dubose said Starks had been with the department for about a year and had a clean record “that we know of.” Dubose said the July 16 incident began as a shoplifting report at the Walmart on Highway 19. Upon arrival, Starks attempted to arrest the suspect, who got away and fled in his van. Other officers were able to stop the van about 40 to 50 yards away. Starks pulled up moments later. Starks, who was visibly angry in the video, pushed the suspect, tased him and later tried to lift him from the ground while the suspect was incapacitated. At one point, Starks pulled his taser again but did not discharge it.
“You’ve got to understand this guy just got hit with several volts of electricity,” the chief said. “… Often times, when a person is tased, they have to have a period of recovery.” Meridian Police Capt. John Griffith said Starks used what is called a “drive stun” where the taser is placed directly on the body. “We train [officers] to never use them when a suspect is being compliant,” Griffith said. Dubose said Starks has not been charged criminally, but that could change if the shoplifting suspect decides to press charges. “It was the swift action of other officers who were there,” Dubose said about the termination, which occurred one week after the incident. “They chose to report it as soon as it happened because they were concerned.” The use of excessive force was reported to a supervisor, who passed it to police administration before getting the signature of Mayor Percy Bland, Dubose said.
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